Romans 4:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 4:11, NIV: "And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them."

Romans 4:11, ESV: "He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,"

Romans 4:11, KJV: "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:"

Romans 4:11, NASB: "and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,"

Romans 4:11, NLT: "Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous--even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith."

Romans 4:11, CSB: "And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also."

What does Romans 4:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Was Abraham declared righteous before God because He was circumcised or because of his faith? Paul has already pointed to the Scripture for a clearly-stated answer. Abraham was counted righteous by God for his faith (Genesis 15:6). So what was the point of circumcision if it wasn't what caused Abraham, or his descendants, to be righteous in God's eyes?

Circumcision was a sign that served as a seal, Paul writes. It was an outward sign for the Jewish people that they believed what God had told them. Abraham's righteous standing before God was still by faith. His circumcision sealed—demonstrated and proved—the righteousness he had already been given credit for. God credited righteousness to Abraham when Abraham was yet to be circumcised.

Paul states now that there was a definite reason for that gap of time between when Abraham was declared righteous by God for his faith and when he was circumcised. It caused Abraham to become the father of both the Jews and the believing Gentiles who would follow.

First, Abraham is the father to all who believe God without being circumcised. By this, Paul means non-Jewish people around the world, whether they are circumcised for other reasons or not. All non-Jewish people can follow Abraham's example of being declared righteous before God because of faith and not because of works.

Then, as the following verse will show, Abraham became the father of all the Jews, as well.