demythologizing Abraham


Romans 4:1-5

1 What then should we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, concluded regarding this matter? 2 Because if Abraham was declared righteous by the works of the law, he has something to brag about–but not in God’s presence. 3 Because what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited as a result of grace but because of obligation. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.

demythologizing Abraham

The Judaism of Paul’s day had been founded upon a myth: the myth that God approved of Abraham because he had perfectly kept the law – even before the law had been given at Sinai. Paul encourages the Jewish Christians in Rome to go back to the Torah. He argued that according to what the Bible actually says about Abraham,[1] God approved of him long before he had the opportunity to obey the law. His approval was a response to his faith in the promise of the God of grace.

The myth still persists. There are many who push religious observances as a way to “get right with God” and insist that this is the Christian message. It is not. In fact, Paul argued here that it is not even the message of Judaism as the Torah presents it. The law was not a means of salvation, because salvation preceded it. Salvation by grace through faith is the consistent message of both testaments. Abraham is our father because he dared to believe God’s promise of grace.

LORD, help us to demythologize our presentation of the gospel so that those who hear us understand that salvation is your work, not ours.

[1] Genesis 15:6.


About Jefferson Vann

Jeff is a Christian missionary.
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