In the first part of this selection, Paul establishes that Abraham – the father of the Jewish people – was justified and found himself in Covenant with God. He was blessed with promises, not because of his good works, but because of his trust in God. So What! We’ve been thought this all our lives. We know what this scripture is about. But do we really understand it? Paul is writing about Abraham’s family and who constitutes it. Paul is trying to show that Abraham’s family is not a biological and ethnic group but much wider. Those persons, Paul writes, who trust the God who justifies the ungodly – people just like Abraham – will find their trust considered as righteousness by God and will be placed in a right relationship with him. These persons make up the family of Abraham.
Therefore the Covenant is not restricted to Abraham and his physical descendants. The Covenant is a privilege for all who humbly put their trust in God. God’s purpose, Paul states in the 8th Chapter of Romans, is to redeem, to reclaim the entire world, the entire cosmos –all creation – which has existed in a fallen state since Adam’s sin. And this aim necessarily includes those who are not Abraham’s children by physical descent. Therefore, some other criteria must be applied in order to redeem and make new all creation.
Bishop (ret) N.T. Wright of the Church of England comments that not many Christians make much of being a child of Abraham who have claim to the promises of God guaranteed by the Covenant. We seem to leave this to Jews or Muslims. Yet this is an important centerpiece of the New Testament. Paul’s theology, which has shaped modern Christianity, is based upon these ancient promises. As Christians, we need to ponder these ideas more deeply and let God lead us into Abraham’s multi-ethnic family so that we can share in his promises to us.
— George Burnett