We’ve been taking this space to review some basic theology each week. There’s not a lot of space, so each installment builds on those before it, we’re putting past installments on our blog. We’ve been talking about Abraham and Sarah. Today, let’s briefly consider a crucial text in his story.
Genesis 15:6 says Abraham believed God, “and it was counted to him as righteousness.” In both testaments, the concepts of RIGHTEOUSNESS and JUSTIFICATION are inseparable. Specifically, they deal with what marks one out as a person of God. Who is righteous? Who is justified? Who is counted among God’s people? There have been many answers given to that question over the years. The Jews held (with some merit) things like circumcision and dietary laws to be signs of their justification - their membership in God’s family.
Here, however, Abraham was marked out as God’s by his belief. In the New Testament, the three most detailed and crucial conversations about justification - Romans 3-4, Galatians 3, James 2 - all point back to this passage, with each conversation adding it’s own nuance. Abraham was justified by faith before circumcision was a thing. Abraham was justified by a trust in God that caused him to follow God.