Hebrew Roots/Restoration/Faith & Works/Faith & The Law
ABRAHAM THE FATHER OF FAITH
"Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. What then shall we say that our father Abraham has found according to the flesh? .. .. For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (Romans 3:31; 4:1,3)
Pauls' discussion at the end of chapter 3 is regarding the need of circumcision for believers from he nations and he uses Abraham as a type of one who made the transition from the heathen culture of his time to a place of saving faith. The problem is Judaisers desiring to bring the new converts under Judaic practice regarding conversion. This was dealt with later by the Apostolic Council in Acts 15 which made the decision that it was not necessary for them to prove their faithfulness and be circumcised first to be accepted into the Messianic community, as had been the practice in the old covenant for converts. As Peter said, "So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them (non-Jewish believers) by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9)
This is the same issue Paul is attempting to teach upon, prior to the ruling of the Jerusalem Council, that a person's heart is purified by faith through the operation of the Holy Spirit, and not by "works" in the new covenant. Converts previously were accepted for circumcision after they had proved their faith by their works for usually a year, spanning all the festival seasons.
Abraham is taken as a type as the spiritual father of all who would come into the faith from a heathen background. He was the first of a kind, as all the previous patriarchs had followed in an unbroken line from Adam, being instructed in righteousness orally, father to son, down through the generations. Abraham came to faith in a idol-worshiping family in a pagan society. The main point Paul is making is that Abraham came into faith prior to the covenant of circumcision being given, which was a sign for all his natural descendants of the nation which came forth from him, to which the Law was given at Sinai.
Notice the point that Paul makes, "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all." (Romans 4:16)
The promise through faith, is for "all the seed" and it was given that way so that in the fullness of time, others would be included, who like Abraham, came to faith out of the nations. It would be a contradiction to assume that Paul's reference to "those who are of the law" was meaning those under legalism when he had just stated that the promise by faith through grace was for "all the seed". He is merely differentiating those who come in just by faith (the Gentiles), from those who come into faith through the knowledge of God and His ways through the Law (the Jews). They are not being contrasted one against the another as if those "who are of the law" are not also of faith. He is the "father of all", the difference is how they come to faith.
Abraham set a precedent for all who would follow after and transact the spiritual journey from unbelief to faith in the new covenant. He had forsaken the idolatry of his family in Ur and turned to the living God to serve and worship Him and thereby became a prototype, or spiritual "father" for those who would do the same, knowing that, "God would justify the heathen by faith" and so, "they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham" (Galatians 3: 7, 8)
THE SAVING FAITH OF ABRAHAM
The type of faith which is attributed to Abraham as the "father of faith" resulted in the righteousness of God being imputed to him. This is the "new covenant" experience of receiving the nature of God through Christ by faith. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). He imparts His nature to us whereby we become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). In this experience he became the father of all who would afterward believe, both under the system of the law and apart from the law. To all the promise was extended that Abraham reached forward to embrace in that city whose builder and maker is God, the eternal city, the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:10, 13-16).
"But now the righteousness apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Yeshua the Messiah, to all and upon all who believe." (Romans 3:21-2) The righteousness "apart from" (CHORIS) the law means 'separate from', not instead of the law. This new creation experience was available to all. David was another who entered into this experience by faith (Romans 4:6), as did many of the patriarchs. Notice that Abraham was a believer before God called him out of Ur ("By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out" Hebrews 11:8) and it was many years before his faith was perfected and he was able to receive the promise. Again, 'By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who received the promises offered up his only begotten son ... ... concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense." (Hebrews 11:17, 19) Here we see the operation of Abraham's faith in the resurrection of Messiah, of which he knew Isaac was a type, wherein he received the reward of his faith, the righteousness of God; "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (Galatians 3:6)
THE WALK OF FAITH AND THE LAW
Yahweh God chose Abraham to be the father of faith because he had already proved himself faithful to walk in the revealed will of God to him. The basis of the fulfillment of the promises as said to Isaac was, "because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws" (Genesis 26:5).
He knew because of that He could trust him to order his children and his household after him. As He said, "For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has spoken to him." (Genesis 18:19)
Yahweh's faith not misplaced, Abraham faithfully taught his household, and they in turn the next generation, so that all the principles, laws, and commandments of God were orally taught to each succeeding generation until their absorption in Egypt. We are given to understand that after the patriarchs died, in the process of time, the nation fell into idolatry and a process of assimilation into Egyptian culture and worship took place. Yahweh then gave them over to a ruler who oppressed them, to cause them to turn back to Him, in their need.
God does not send oppression upon any people while they walk in His ways. Judgments and oppression comes as a result of ungodliness. We see that it was not until fourth plague that Yahweh made a difference between the Israelites and the Egyptians, causing Goshen to be separated and free from the plagues (Exodus 8:23). Up till that time we can assume that He made no difference between them because Israel had not separated itself from Egypt. The mighty demonstrations of His power drew them back into knowing and worshiping Him again. The Passover was a determining symbol of faith in the sacrificial Lamb for their redemption and deliverance. It separated the believers from the unbelievers among them. Jewish historians say that there was only a small proportion of the nation which had descended from the patriarchs that actually came out in the exodus. There were many added to them from other nations who had also been taken into slavery into Egypt who identified themselves with the God of Israel and formed the mixed multitude of other nations that came out with them.
This mixed multitude of redeemed people which came out in the exodus, was largely untrained in the way of righteousness. Transgression had overtaken the nation itself and the Law needed to be given to them to instruct them in righteousness - "The law was added because of transgression" (Galatians 3:19)
When the Law was given at Sinai, it was given in 70 languages, according to the number of the nations of the world, because it was for the whole world, not just for Israel, although they were intended to be the Priest-nation to the world. Just as also at Pentecost, all the nations present at that time, heard them speak in their own languages. So did the Word speak to each of the mixed multitude in their own language at Sinai.
What had been orally transmitted before Israel became a nation, was now transcribed on tablets of stone to become a national constitution in a written covenant with Almighty God (Exodus 20-23). It was "added" after their redemption, for instruction in righteousness, not as a means of salvation or acceptance with God.
"What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." (Galatians 3:19)